WWE SmackDown 6/21/2024: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s weekly review of "WWE SmackDown," now with even more Pacific Islanders! Coming off Clash at the Castle, the WINC staff wasn't exactly thrilled with the events of "WWE Raw" this week, but surprisingly, most of us thought "SmackDown" was a blast, a breezy two hours filled with touching reunions, the fairly massive debut of a new Bloodline member, Money in the Bank qualifiers being won by the people who should actually win them, and CM Punk being beaten bloody and taken away in an ambulance. It was tons of fun.


Are we going to talk about all of the above here in this space? Yes! Yes, we are. We're covering the majority of the show here, actually, though sadly none of us have any feelings whatsoever about the ongoing Logan Paul/LA Knight feud. You can read about that, and anything else we missed, by going to our "SmackDown" results page. Fortunately, we have lots and lots of feelings about basically everything else, so without further ado, here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 6/21/24 episode of "WWE SmackDown."

Loved: New faces for Money in the Bank

If Friday's series of Money in the Bank qualifying matches had happened two months ago, it feels like Bianca Belair, Randy Orton, and Kevin Owens would've been the ones punching their tickets to Toronto. Instead, WWE decided to take a gamble by giving te opportunities to Chelsea Green, Carmelo Hayes, and Andrade, and while it may be too early to say for certain, this move looks like it will pay off in spades.


It's high time that WWE transitions into building new stars. Their product is stable overall, new deals with broadcasting companies are signed, and more people are being exposed to WWE daily. Now is the best time to take gambles and experiment with pushing stars outside of their staple 4-5 top performers, and WWE has, thankfully, taken the initiative to expand outside of their comfort zone now that their bases as a business are covered.

Moreover, Green, Hayes, and Andrade are all relatively safe performers to go into this risky venture with — all of them have the potential to get incredibly over (if they not already are, as evidenced by Matt Cardona's video of the electric Chicago crowd following Green's qualifying match victory), all of them are good, if not great, in the ring, and all of them have the potential to add to WWE's diverse roster of both talent and potential storylines. Green, Hayes, and Andrade have the potential to create a spectacular symbiotic relationship with everything Money in the Bank — match, briefcase, and contract. All three of Friday's confirmed participants have the capability to put on a great show in the ladder match (I'm especially excited to see the high-flying Hayes wreck havoc on the competition in Toronto), all three would have their careers skyrocketed by the briefcase, and all three would elevate the prestige of the briefcase. Their competition — especially Belair, Orton, and Owens — are established veterans who could elevate the briefcase, but are ultimately too iconic in their own right to share the spotlight with the contract.


While qualifying for a match doesn't necessarily equate to a victory, especially in a match with several other performers (George Russell's Canada Grand Prix performance, I'm looking at you), it is awesome to see WWE take the risk to push new stars. According to a reply on Cardona's tweet, Chicago "popped for Chelsea over Bianca big time" — this is a sign that the tide is changing, and WWE needs to keep up. It may seem a bit too risky to experiment with newer wrestlers as the networks change and the image of professional wrestling in the public eye shifts. However, there is a sense of security in those new changes — the contracts are signed, the deals aren't expiring any time soon, and the image of professional wrestling as a legitimate entertainment medium is the strongest it's been in years. Now is absolutely the best time to go in on experimenting with new stars; the business is strong enough that it can handle the initial drawbacks of ushering in new talent.

They say that winning the Money in the Bank contract can change your entire career. Now is as good of a time as any to change the careers of WWE's superstars of tomorrow.

Written by Angeline Phu

Hated: Punk opens SmackDown in confusing manner

I feel as though I need to open this "hated" section of "SmackDown" by saying, probably for once, this doesn't have anything to do with my overall disdain for CM Punk. And I truly mean that. However, his opening segment in front of the Allstate Arena crowd in his hometown of Chicago left me extremely confused. First of all, Punk told fans during the press conference after Clash at the Castle that he would be appearing in front of said hometown crowd on "SmackDown," despite being a "Raw" star, to address his recovery from his triceps tear. Despite my dislike of the guy, that made perfect sense to me. He's a huge draw, the Chicago crowd loves him, why WOULDN'T he appear on this show to address his injury ahead of Money in the Bank and Summerslam, especially if he was cleared? However ... he didn't even make a single mention of his injury. Not. A. Word. Which was incredibly strange to me.


What he did do, however, was welcome back his previous advocate/manager/whatever he was referred to when he was alongside Punk, Paul Heyman, with open arms. I also didn't mind this, overall, but once again, I was incredibly confused, especially since Heyman left the segment alongside Sikoa and the Bloodline, and was featured alongside Sikoa in a short segment at the end of the night, before the new "Head of the Table's" match against Undisputed WWE Champion Cody Rhodes and subsequent debut of the newest Bloodline member, Jacob Fatu. At one point in his in-ring segment with Punk, Heyman pleaded with the "Second City Saint" to "take me with you." And Sikoa ... just didn't seem to be too upset about that statement later in the night? He didn't punish Heyman, for lack of a better phrase, for any of that? I truly don't understand. I'm sure that fallout is coming sooner rather than later, but with this week's opening of "SmackDown," it certainly seemed like the perfect time to pull the trigger on the breakup between the Bloodline and Heyman, letting "The Wise Man" come available for Roman Reigns' return.


I didn't even mind Punk teaming up with Rhodes, Randy Orton, and Kevin Owens to drive off the Bloodline at the end of the opening segment. It's just that everything before that didn't make a single lick of sense to me. Also, the later beatdown by Drew McIntyre led to Punk doing a stretcher job and being taken to the hospital "overnight," which once again left me confused about his injury status, especially since during the previously mentioned press conference, he mentioned a "hiccup" during his Clash at the Castle interference. Did he hurt himself again? Was it a serious setback? Is it all a work? I just have so many unanswered questions that Punk's appearance didn't answer, and it's upsetting.

I suppose maybe this portion of our humble "loved and hated" article could be treated as more of a "very confused" segment, but overall, I really disliked the fact I had more questions than answers following a premium live event, especially when it comes to Punk's injury status. There were too many threads of too many storylines for me to kick off the show, and I don't think my brain ever really recovered.

Written by Daisy Ruth

Loved: CM Punk and Paul Heyman hug it out

There's a lot that could be said about CM Punk and Paul Heyman, both good and bad. In the mid-2000s, Punk was a "Paul Heyman Guy." They were one of the most formidable duos in all of wrestling. Then Punk walked out of WWE in 2014, and Heyman has been aligned with Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns ever since.


With "SmackDown" in Punk's hometown of Chicago, the "Second City Saint" greeted his people in his first appearance since costing Drew McIntyre the WWE Championship at Clash at the Castle; his hometown fans didn't seem to care about his actions from six days before. As Punk was addressing the crowd, "The Wise Man" came to the ring. The two shared a warm embrace, one that Heyman admitted he needed. Heyman seemed a little cagey and he was there to warn Punk that The Bloodline was coming from him. He tried his best to plead for his old friend to leave before any harm came to him.

Heyman delivered the line of the night when he told Punk that the favor he had to ask was "take me with you." Instead of granting that favor, Punk told The Bloodline that he saw "fake ass Usos and a phony cosplay Tribal Chief." Heyman looked bewildered that his friend wasn't taking any of it seriously and taunting them instead.


Even though nearly a decade has passed since Punk and Heyman were cohorts, their chemistry is still there. Part of it is likely due to a real life friendship, which made their segment come off as authentic. While Heyman has to answer to the current "Head of the Table", his interactions with Punk will probably be few and far between. But for a moment in Chicago, it was 2012 once again.

Written by Samantha Schipman

Hated: Do those tag titles even mean anything?

Friday night, Grayson Waller brandished the WWE Tag Team Championship as he engaged in a shouting match with Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa of #DIY (thoughts and prayers with Austin Theory, who is currently recovering from "pretty serious" dental surgery). The segment itself was nothing to write home about, but as the garage door banged in the background and an irate Drew McIntyre appeared, it was made very clear what WWE thinks of its current tag team division.


A-Town Down Under's single title defense was over a month ago, on the May 3 episode of "WWE SmackDown—" not even on pay-per-view. That alone makes a strong case for the state of the "SmackDown" tag team division, and the champions that represent it. The titles are seldom defended — and when they are defended, it's usually against C-tier SuperStars who would've just sat back in catering otherwise — and when they are appearing on television, they are always an accessory to whatever more esteemed feud is going on. A-Town Down Under was just an accessory to Carmelo Hayes when he very briefly (emphasis on briefly) feuded with LA Knight earlier this month, and now, Grayson Waller was just a set-up for McIntyre's violent beat-down of CM Punk. He doesn't even get his own program — even without one half of the tag team champions there, one would think that a champion would get his own segment. His body was on camera, but this wasn't his segment. Waller is a tag team champion, but he's being used as context for the return of someone bigger and badder.


It's not even like Awesome Truth are doing much better on Monday nights — their most recent title defense against resident nobodies Authors of Pain (sorry Akam and Rezar) was on the June 10 episode of "WWE Raw" — but A-Town Down Under is getting treated so much more poorly. The issue is that tag teams in WWE are seen as numbers; they are bodies that play supporting roles to their allies in singles competition. Tag teams, in WWE's current landscape, are just faces to fill out six-man tag team matches (because WWE loves their trios alliances, and while this would be the place to complain about a lack of a trios title, my observations about the tag titles makes me glad that WWE has yet to introduce those). There are no compelling storylines that are carried solely by tag teams — save for maybe the alliance between Randy Orton and Kevin Owens, and even that is in relation to The Bloodline (again, a singles competitor that is followed around by two guys who do little but offer their bodies in service of their principal ally). The tag team division is supplemental material — unnecessary, optional.

The men's tag team titles are in only a slightly better position than their female counterparts, if not the exact same. The WWE Women's Tag Team Championships are notorious for their shallow and unfulfilling booking, and many wrestling fans on the Internet make the argument that they should be eliminated entirely. At this point, the same argument can be made for the men's tag team titles, which add little to the diversity of the shows that they are defended on (if they're defended at all), and are currently little more than consolation prizes for years, if not decades', worth of hard work.


How can the tag titles mean anything when the champion is treated as an extra in a movie? They can't. They don't.

Written by Angeline Phu

Loved: Drew McIntyre does it again

Whether it's reinventing himself on the indies after his release from WWE several years back or doing an excellent and unexpected heel turn, Drew McIntyre is a man who understands how to create an interesting character arc and stick with it.


McIntyre didn't even need to say a word Friday night to make his rage and anger towards CM Punk felt by everyone after the latter cost him his World Heavyweight Championship match at Clash At The Castle in his home country of Scotland and invoked his name earlier in the night to taunt him. It's no small feat, and is certainly not a move that every wrestler can pull off, but it goes to show how much talent he has. By just simply standing over Punk after a garage door opened and dragging him to the ringside area, he somehow showed a new intensity and depth to his character while simultaneously showing Chicago what he could do to their hometown hero.

While having him quit WWE may have been slightly unnecessary considering how many fans assumed that it was all for the story, it did add to the unexpected factor of his actions tonight, and seeing him so soon after he did so added to the jarring nature of what was playing out. It just worked, and was a welcomed break from the Money In The Bank Qualifiers and Bloodline stuff that was featured through the rest of the show.


Written by Olivia Quinlan

Hated: The Wyatts take an early Sicks day

I'm not the kind of person who's going to pick apart the Wyatt Sicks storyline on the basis of logic, because I plan on enjoying the angle regardless of whether or not it makes a ton of sense. That said, I found myself a little disappointed that the Wyatts had no presence whatsoever on "SmackDown" — particularly given the tease before the show of Nick Aldis bringing in extra security to prevent an incident like the one that happened Monday night.


If the Wyatt Sicks had had a strong presence on "SmackDown" despite the "security measures," that would have put over the storyline as a company-wide threat. If Aldis' announcement had never happened and "SmackDown" had ignored the "Raw" attack altogether, that would have at least been funny. I'm not sure what to make of a world where Aldis brings in the security, and that just never pays off. Like, are we meant to think that the security measures worked? Or did the Wyatts just not bother to show up because they're secretly signed "Raw" talent, contractually obligated to only kill people on Mondays? Add to that the fact that Adam Pearce announced the presumably deceased Chad Gable was actually completely fine to wrestle on next week's "Raw" during the "SmackDown" broadcast, and it's hard to know how to feel about the angle four days later.


I feel like Monday and Friday were envisioned as a sort of one-two punch following Clash at the Castle, with the Wyatts taking over the end of "Raw" and Jacob Fatu finally completing the New Bloodline on "SmackDown." And that's fine, I get that. To get mad about this storyline is to entirely miss the point, but I wish WWE would have committed to a direction and either leaned into the Wyatt Sicks angle on "SmackDown" or leaned away from it, rather than trying to straddle the two, setting something up that ultimately went nowhere.

Written by Miles Schneiderman